Principal involvement is recognized as a key component to success in professional development implementation. Both the principal efforts undertaken, and the visions stated influence teacher development and student achievement. Using the instructional, transformational, and learning-centered models of leadership, as well as frameworks in vision, and organizational theory, this research sought to clarify the impact of principal involvement on student performance. Interview data was collected from 16 principals participating in a mathematics professional development program entitled the Comprehensive Mathematics Initiative. Of the participants, 9 of the principals were from schools that achieved high levels of student performance on standardized mathematics tests following their school’s participation in the professional development program. The remaining 7 principals achieved moderate success from participation in the same. General findings suggest that principals who pursue a learning-centered leadership model (combining both instructional and transformational leadership efforts) achieve greater success while implementing professional development programs. Specific findings identified that principals who define success in terms of improving student performance were more likely to achieve higher student achievement on mathematics standardized tests versus those principals who define a metric of success as stronger teacher development. Additionally, it was determined that vision statements expressed with brevity and a singular goal were more effective at influencing student achievement than more complex, multi-faceted visions. Finally, efforts taken to involve staff in decision making and encourage teacher development through supportive means were more successful at achieving higher levels of student performance. These findings can inform principals and other school leaders on how to more effectively implement professional development programs.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


Document Type





professional development, transformational leadership, instructional leadership, vision, mathematics